Online Now: New Study on Recent German Immigration to Manitoba

Independent film maker and recent graduate of the University of Winnipeg has just released a new study, based on video-taped interviews, about the wave of immigrants who have come from Germany to Manitoba since 1997. To watch the interviews and learn more about this immigration, visit:

The study was funded in part by the Chair in German-Canadian Studies and the Spletzer Family Foundation, Inc.


Imperial Ambiguities: Scottish Emigration During the 1920s and 1930s

Marjorie Harper. Emigration From Scotland Between the Wars: Opportunity or Exile? Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1998. ISBN 9780719080463.

Did migration help or hinder empire building in the first third of the twentieth century? In this fine case study of Scottish emigration to overseas destinations – especially Canada – during the two world wars, Marjory Harper uses the Empire Settlement Act of 1922 to explore to what degree Britain could support and bind its colonies and dominions through migration policy. From the re-stabilization of Europe at the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 to the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, the sparsely populated Scotland had lost over 400,000 people to the United States and British overseas colonies, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. The nineteenth century was the age of laissez faire in migration politics. State governments neither hindered nor supported in any meaningful way the white European migration to the Americas and Antipodes. Emigration from Scotland was high throughout this time. In some years, more people left Scotland than were born there.

Laissez-faire politics changed after the war, when the United States introduced a quota system in 1924, limiting the number of European immigrants. Canada, too, increasingly controlled European immigration. At the same time, the implementation of the Empire Settlement Act (SA) introduced new government incentives and infrastructure to support would-be emigrants who lacked the motivation or resources to move on their own. Under this scheme, the British government provided up to three million pounds annually to train would-be emigrants, support emigration and settlement agencies, and pay for transportation. Although the Empire Settlement Act was to last for fifteen years, it was in effect halted by the Great Depression of the early 1930s. Overall, the ESA spent just over six million pounds from 1922 to 1936, helping one third of all British emigrants move abroad. Many of the 400,000 ESA emigrants were juveniles and single women, but there were also single men and families. Forty-six percent of the ESA emigrants went to Canada, 43 percent to Australia, 11 percent to New Zealand, and under 1 percent to South Africa.

In order to find out whether Britain was able or interested in significantly manipulating migration as a means of empire building, Harper asks whether the Empire Settlement Act had a significant impact on Scottish emigration during the 1920s and 1930s. She explores this question by examining the flurry of activities and discourses generated by the ESA and the issue of emigration generally, comparing the views of the major churches, newspapers, political parties, labour unions, government agencies and committees, and the emigrants themselves. While most private and public sectors had strongly negative or positive or even contradictory responses, would-be Scottish emigrants saw the ESA as simply one more option – viable to some, unacceptable to others – in a larger array of resources they used to decide whether to migrate and if so, where to and when. Most Scottish emigrants, however, continued to rely – as they had in the nineteenth century – on their private networks of family and friends to organize their own migration and integration.

Thus, while the activity of emigration and booking agents increased in the 1920s, it is unclear to what degree they influenced Scots to emigrate. Here, Harper’s analysis of how agents at times acquired shady reputations, made exaggerated promises, and generated general controversies, could have been strengthened by asking emigrants about their experiences with agents. Despite Scottish people’s ability to make decisions within their own networks, published opinion had often depicted emigration as a reluctant exile of impoverished people from the Scottish islands and highlands. Harper argues that this narrow view was belied by the complexity of the actual emigration, which drew from all regions – including the lowland and urban industrial centres – and many social classes. Much of the controversy between national government, local authorities, and commentators turned on the question whether the Scottish economy needed more or fewer people. Eventually, public opinion came around and skepticism was balanced with some enthusiasm. Much of this ambiguity was reflected in the attitudes and experiences of the emigrants, many of whom returned to Scotland. More controversial were the various emigration and settlement schemes by a whole range of national and local Christian organizations such as the YMCA, Salvation Army, and the Church of Scotland that brought juveniles to remote locations in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Best known in Canada as the Home Children or Barnado’s Boys, these young immigrants sometimes continued to be in touch with their parents or other relatives in Scotland. The quick demise of these schemes by the end of the 1920s was not so much a result of the numerous complaints of deceit, neglect, or abuse but rather by a general disinterest in this form of emigration.

Harper paints a complex and broad picture of Scottish overseas emigration during the interwar years – a period largely neglected by migration historians. She does not provide a conclusive answer to her question whether the Empire Settlement Act had a significant impact on Scottish emigration or British empire building during the 1920s and 1930s. Nevertheless, her study illuminates multiple ways in which imperial ambitions and politics succeeded or failed. Indeed, examining the diverse traditions and understandings of migration, settlement, and demography in the context of imperial history demonstrates that imperial projects, for the most part, wavered between contradictory political goals, half-hearted policies, fiscal fears, and muddy notions of empire, motherland, and dominion in London, Glasgow, Ottawa, and Canberra. Thus, Harper’s book will be of interest to both, scholars of migration and scholars of empire.

Alexander Freund, University of Winnipeg

The Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World Through the Eyes of Moravian Missionaries

Michele Gillespie and Robert Beachy, eds. Pious Pursuits: German Moravians in the Atlantic World. New York: Berghahn Books, 2007. ISBN 9781845453398.

The essays published in this collection, originally presented at a conference in 2002, provide a useful survey of historical case studies documenting the Moravian missionary diaspora in the eighteenth-century Atlantic world stretching from Central and Western Europe and western Africa to the Caribbean and the Americas. The Moravian Church, also known as Unitas Fratrum or Unity of the Brethren, originated in fifteenth-century Bohemia and quickly became the dominant confession of the region, but they were drastically reduced and forced underground by the early seventeenth century. A small group of survivors in Moravia were sponsored by Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf on his estate in Saxony and the Church’s revival began in 1727. The Moravians almost immediately sent missionaries into the world and quickly became the main Protestant sect converting people from Antigua, Barbados, Greenland, Silesia, Surinam, South Africa, and the Americas. The community grew from one thousand in 1750 to 700,000 today.

Traditionally, research on the Atlantic world has focused on the Anglo experiences in the North Atlantic and the Catholic church’s role in the Iberian-Atlantic worlds. Yet, Moravians and other German Pietists played a more significant role than did Anglicans, Quakers, and other British clerics. “What historians have yet to appreciate,” the editors write in their introduction, “is the degree to which the German Moravians, more than any other Protestant sect, proved most adept not only at stretching themselves across the entirety of the Atlantic World, but in securing new adherents in the unlikeliest of communities and in the unlikeliest of places” (3).

The editors argue that the eighteenth-century missionary work was crucial in the development of the Moravian church: Moravian missionaries with their cosmopolitan outlook, global network of missions, and multiple migration experiences illuminate previously hidden or poorly understood transnational and intercultural connections in this Atlantic world. Going even further, the editors argue that the Moravians were harbingers of modernity, using education, credit, medicine, travel and “information networks” (4) in their work while confronting and even opposing other challenges of modernity such as democracy, secularism, and freedom. Despite their constant engagement in the wider world, Moravians were nevertheless able to maintain closed communities that were based on a tightly circumscribed belief system and social structure and secretive forms of communication.

The fourteen essays focus on the development of Moravian society, culture, commerce, and theology in eighteenth century America. Together, they weave a complex and often contradictory image of Moravian values and social relations. Social and economic relations of the community were derived from traditional German guild and community organization, but changed under the pressures and promises of capitalism. There was greater class equality than in outside society, but German nobility had a disproportionate involvement in church leadership. Similarly, women had greater power in the Moravian church than women generally did, but under financial constraint, male church leaders restricted this power after Zinzendorf’s death in 1760. Moravians were slaveholders, but also crossed racial lines more frequently and easily than others. Moravians were pacifists but were used in the service of colonial and imperialist projects. As Jon Sensbach argues in his essay on Moravians’ views of race and use of slaves, the “transcultural, multiracial Moravian fellowship derived from, and expressed, many of the contradictions of the eighteenth century” (235).

Even though the editors and authors aspired to write a history of Moravians in North America and the Atlantic world, the majority of essays focus on colonial America, while Moravian missions in Labrador are not mentioned. Further, despite the Moravians’ transnational values and ways of life, only some essays teach us about the non-Moravian world. Most of the studies are circumscribed by a focus on internal dialogue among scholars of Moravian history, and thus, as in much ethnic and religious group history, outside perspectives are underrepresented. Thus, the editors’ statement that this collection is “as relevant for understanding our world today as it is for understanding our past” (17) is an important objective, but it is not always met. Nevertheless, the collection will be a valuable resource for scholars of the Atlantic world, the eighteenth century, and the history of religion.

Alexander Freund, University of Winnipeg

Recipients of 2014 German-Canadian Studies Scholarships, Grants, and Prizes

Recipients of the 2014 German-Canadian Studies Fellowship competition have been announced. Once again, the program is funding research of the highest quality. The funded projects are innovative studies in social history and the history of medicine as well as family history and intergenerational memory. The 2015 Fellowship program has been announced on the German-Canadian Studies website.


GCS Dissertation Prize

Making Ethnic Space: Education, Religion, and the German Language in Argentina and Canada, 1880-1930

Dr. Benjamin Bryce is the recipient of the 2014 German-Canadian Studies Dissertation Prize, which he won for “Making Ethnic Space: Education, Religion, and the German Language in Argentina and Canada, 1880-1930” (York University 2013). In his study, Dr. Bryce, who is now an assistant professor at the University of Northern British Columbia, explores how children, parents, and teachers struggled with politicians, bureaucrats, and religious leaders over the meanings of German language, bilingualism, and ethnic identity. He compares these negotiations between immigrants and the state in two distinct liberal nations at the height of European immigration to the Americas. Professor Roberto Perin (York University) calls it “a complex, innovative, and dynamic study which highlights the German women and men who tried to reproduce their ethnicity in gendered ways within the family and the institutions they founded and used in the countries of adoption.” Professor Jose Moya (Barnard College) writes: “The prose and the organization are as lucid as the conceptual apparatus.” He also notes: “The primary research, conducted in three different countries and four languages, is broad, deep, and at times awe inspiring.” Dr. Bryce’s dissertation meets the high expectations of excellence in the field of German-Canadian Studies that are required by the German-Canadian Studies Fellowship program. Dr. Bryce previously had received German-Canadian Studies research scholarships for his Master’s thesis and doctoral work. Dr. Bryce’s recent publications include “Linguistic Ideology and State Power: German and English Education in Ontario, 1880-1912” in the Canadian Historical Review (2013), “Entangled Communities: Religion and Ethnicity in Ontario and North America, 1880-1930” in Journal of the Canadian Historical Association (2012), and “Los caballeros de beneficencia y las damas organizadoras: El Hospital Alemán y la idea de comunidad en Buenos Aires, 1880-1930” in Estudios Migratorios Latinoamericanos (2011). Dr. Bryce is presently revising his dissertation into a book, which is tentatively entitled “Regimes of Pluralism: Language, Religion, and Ethnicity in Argentina and Canada, 1880-1930.” For more information about his research, you can visit his website:


GCS Master’s thesis Prize

Of ‘Modern Immigrants’ and ‘German Bread’: A Case Study of Ethnic Identity Construction Amongst Contemporary German Immigrants in the City of Ottawa, Canada

Ms Anke Patzelt is the recipient of the 2014 German-Canadian Studies Master’s thesis Prize, which she won for “Of ‘Modern Immigrants’ and ‘German Bread’: A Case Study of Ethnic Identity Construction Amongst Contemporary German Immigrants in the City of Ottawa, Canada” (Malmö University 2013). In her study, Ms Patzelt, who will start a Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of Ottawa in September 2014, investigates the ways in which recent German immigrants to Canada continue to identify with Germany and German culture. While much research has focused on the large wave of German immigrants who arrived during the 1950s, few researchers have studied those who have arrived since 1990. More so than earlier generations, the most recent immigrants use modern communication and transportation to maintain transnational ties with Germany, which they continue to see as their homeland. More so than earlier generations, the post-1990 immigrants emphasize passing their German language and culture on to their children. Professor Elke Winter of the University of Ottawa writes that Ms Patzelt “identifies stark differences in social class, integration and identity construction between Germans who came to Canada in the post-war years and those having joined the country in the 1990s.” She continues, “Ms Patzel’s work makes a significant contribution not only to the understudied phenomenon of recent German immigration to Canada, but also to the changing nature of ‘ethnic communities’ and ‘identity retention’ within the Canadian context more generally.” Ms Patzel’s thesis meets the high expectations of excellence in the field of German-Canadian Studies that are required by the German-Canadian Studies Fellowship program.


GCS Research Scholarship (M.A.)

Mennonites, Community and Influenza: Creating Communities and Understandings of Disease During the 1918-1920 Influenza Epidemic

Ms Vanessa Quiring is the recipient of the 2014 German-Canadian Studies Research Scholarship (M.A.). She is a graduate student in the Joint-Masters-Program in History at the Universities of Manitoba and Winnipeg. The following is a description of her research project.

In the fall of 1918, as the First World War was drawing to a close, Canadian soldiers were coming back from battle overseas. In the midst of Canada’s first major foray into war since Confederation, another threat became more obvious: influenza. Spanish influenza affected millions of people worldwide from 1918 to 1920 and the Canadian population was not immune to such an outbreak. Hundreds of thousand contracted the virus and nearly 50,000 perished. My MA thesis will use a German-speaking Mennonite population and locale, the rural district of Hanover, as the focus for a study of influenza, both the response of marginalized groups to state imposed public health regulations, to use an epidemic event to demonstrate how Mennonites may have experienced disease and the reaches of a community perceived as both tangible and “imagined” through death records and local newspapers. During the 1918 flu pandemic, Mennonites, due to wartime anti-German sentiment, had to cease publishing their newspapers in German and instead use English. Did this impact the readership of Die Steinbach Post during the influenza outbreak and what was being reported in community newspapers about the epidemic? My research therefore seeks to understand how state forms and print communication can be seen as a way of understanding the impact of disease upon a community and of forming a self-identity, both restricted in geographic space and in the broader North American Mennonite community. I intend to see how influenza affected communities through the registration of deaths on provincial governmental forms. In the case of this study, mortality rates for the Rural District of Hanover, which encompass records from the city of Steinbach on the East Reserve of Manitoba will provide an estimation of the mortality rate within a Mennonite community. The abundance of death certificates in an epidemic moment with very little public health organization leaves death records with a wealth of information. The self-identification of Mennonites as well as the construction of Mennonites by government officials can be explored through the lens of disease. Mennonites, historically, lived in community groups, relatively separate from the general population and had their own school system and wanted to maintain a certain level of independence from outside governments. A study of Mennonites during this epidemic event will help understandings of how Mennonites navigated illness. The extent to which Mennonites followed public health measures, filled out death certificates and reported illness and death in the newspapers provides an insight into the world of health within Mennonite communities. The influenza epidemic provides a lens through which one can use death certificates and various print media to understand how communities both face-to-face and imagined are formed. The placement of illnesses of relatives living outside of the Hanover region within local news can tell us about the imagined Mennonite community that extends outside of the province and even of Canada. My study will present an interdisciplinary look at the role that migration, community and religion played in the understanding and treatment of disease.


GCS Research Grant

Intergenerational Memories of a German-Canadian Family

Ms Allison Penner is a recipient of the 2014 German-Canadian Studies Research Grant. Her project is a continuation of “Intergenerational Memories of a German-Canadian Family,” an oral history she began in 2013. While the psychological, educational, material, social, and cultural issues faced by refugees have been studied by social scientists, refugee movements have been left largely unaddressed by most historians, thereby excluding the voices and experiences of these forced migrants from the historical record. This project creates extensive oral histories with three generations of one German-Canadian refugee family. The first generation arrived as post-war refugees in Canada in the 1950s. The study is based on extant interviews with the first generation and will produce extensive oral histories with members of the second and third generation in 2014-15. The interviews will be transcribed and archived at the University of Winnipeg Oral History Centre, where, with the permission of the interviewees, they will be made available to other researchers and the public. A report of the project’s findings will be published at the completion of the research. Family interviews provide researchers with detailed narratives of post-war refugee experiences, narratives of first-, second-, and third-generation German-Canadians, narratives of intergenerational memory within a family, and a glimpse into the public and private life in Winnipeg in the second half of the twentieth century through the perspectives of one German-Canadian family. The interviews will contribute to our understanding of how refugees and their children and grandchildren make sense of and renegotiate ideas of home and identity, and how these ideas and memories can be passed down and reshaped within a family. Ms Penner graduated from the University of Winnipeg with an Honours Bachelor of Arts in History in 2013. She works as a research associate of Dr. Alexander Freund at the University of Winnipeg. Penner also teaches oral history workshops at the University of Winnipeg Oral History Centre. Most of her oral history work has focused on refugees in Manitoba.


GCS Research Grant

Post-WWII Immigrants in Manitoba

Ms. Elizabeth Krahn is a recipient of the 2014 German-Canadian Studies Research Grant. She is an independent researcher in Winnipeg and a recent MSW graduate from the University of Manitoba (2011). Her project is based on Post-WWII Immigrants in Manitoba(PWIM), a SSHRC-funded study that investigated the experiences of refugees in Manitoba from 1945 to 2010. The PWIM project located extant oral history interviews conducted in the 1970s and 1980s with European refugees who came to Manitoba after the Second World War. Researchers conducted follow-up interviews with five survivors of that era (representing Winnipeg’s Polish, Jewish, and Hungarian communities), and interviewed some of their children and grandchildren. This current project focuses on the second and third generation of the refugees. Interviews with members of these generations will be transcribed, summarized, and prepared for archiving. A primary objective of the project is to acknowledge the profound histories and pre- and post-migration experiences of refugees who have arrived in Manitoba over the past 70 years, as well as their descendants, and thereby contribute to a more comprehensive picture of the history of Manitoba, better reflecting its cultural diversity and complexity. Post-WWII refugees are among the oldest living long-term immigrants in Canada and much can be learned from their lived experience across the lifespan and that of their children and grandchildren. My own approach to the analysis and presentation of these oral histories has often been ethnographic, and at times autoethnographic,as I am an adult child of refugees of that era. My particular interest has been inwhat narratives regarding collective trauma tell us about the impact of trauma on personal and cultural identity, meaning, belonging and attachment, and well-being, and how the genuine witnessing of these narratives within and between generations and cultures has the power to stimulate greater understanding, empathy, and transformation rather than reinforce biased assumptions of the other. Ms. Krahn has presented papers at national and international conferences related to qualitative research analysis, gerontology, immigration, and oral history. Her publications include Published articles include “Transcending the ‘Black Raven’: An Autoethnographic and Intergenerational Exploration of Stalinist Oppression”(Qualitative Sociology Review, 2013), and “Lifespan and Intergenerational Legacies of Soviet Oppression: An Autoethnography of Mennonite Women and their Adult Children” (Journal of Mennonite Studies, 2011).

GCS Fellowship Recipients 2013

The Chair in German-Canadian Studies is proud to announce the following fellowship recipients of the 2013 competition. For further information about their work, please read their individual blog entries.
German-Canadian Studies Research Scholarship (Ph.D.): Frauke Brammer (Free University of Berlin) and Christine Kampen (University of Waterloo).
German-Canadian History Research Scholarship (M.A.): Karen Brglez (University of Winnipeg/University of Manitoba)
German-Canadian Studies Research Grant: Joel Penner (Winnipeg) and Allison Penner (Winnipeg)
German-Canadian Studies Dissertation Prize: Roswita Dressler (University of Calgary)

Remembering Klein Kanada: The Canadian Military Diaspora in West Germany, 1951-1993

My dissertation project aims at exploring the social and cultural history of everyday life on and around the former Canadian NATO bases and their surrounding civilian settlements, built and maintained in the Federal Republic of Germany between 1951 and 1993. I am particularly interested in the cultural hybridity of encounters (and non-encounters) of local German residents and members of the Canadian military diaspora in the semi-permeable borderlands between the “Kleine Kanadas” (or Little Canadas) and the surrounding German communities – and how these are being remembered today. In this sense, my research project aims to serve as a contribution to Canadian, (West) German, and German-Canadian post-war history alike.

Social and cultural historiographic studies in both Canada and Germany have hitherto neglected the history of the Canadian Forces in Europe. In order to close this research gap, I have conducted more than 50 Oral History interviews with different actors on the German and Canadian side who lived and worked on or off the Canadian Army and Air Force bases between the 1950s and the 1990s. I have included different generations of military members, civilian employees, local residents, and family “dependants” alike. In addition, I have analyzed commemorative sites in digital media and existing Oral History collections. In order to contextualize these ego-documents, I have consulted records and official publications of the military, administrative authorities, and government agencies as well as newspaper articles in German and Canadian archives. Taken together, these sources open up a fascinating history of (temporary) transatlantic migration, German-Canadian concord and conflict, and the significance of overseas deployment for the life stories of individuals, thereby shedding light on the social and cultural ramifications of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the Canadian deployment to Cold War Europe.

Through the support of the German-Canadian Studies PhD Scholarship, I have not only been able to travel to remaining German archives and former Canadian bases in their different localities in Germany, but also to go back to Canada once more. Here, I was able to conduct additional interviews and to consult remaining primary sources, some of which had to be opened through ATIP. I also presented my research in front of academic audiences and was able to get important feedback from eminent scholars. A collaboration is also taking shape with Vancouver-based artist Michael T. Love, whose work The Long Wait consists of photographs of abandoned Canadian bases in Germany. With these exciting plans ahead, I am extremely thankful for the renewal of the German-Canadian Studies PhD scholarship, which will enable me to successfully conclude my dissertation.

Frauke Brammer
John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies
Department of History
Freie Universität Berlin

Overlapping spaces: An examination of immigrants’ space and identity constructions

Since receiving the Spletzer Foundation Research Grant last year, my dissertation project has evolved somewhat. The Research Grant funding allowed me to undertake a pilot study that has since become the primary focus of my dissertation.

I had planned to examine the ways in which German-speaking Paraguayan Mennonite migrants to Manitoba construct spaces through language, and how these spaces in turn construct their identities. I wanted to conduct a pilot study to test out various aspects of my methodology, especially focus group interviews. However, there are not many German-speaking Mennonite migrants from Paraguay in the Waterloo Region in Ontario, where I live. There are, however, many Low German or Old Colony Mennonite migrants in the region, many of whom have come from Mexico. I decided to conduct my pilot study with Old Colony Mennonite migrants, and those connected to the Old Colony community.

While developing relationships with members of the community, I quickly learned that the time and effort I was investing in building relationships of trust with my participants, and the additional questions that came up during focus group interviews, would be worth a much larger project than could be encompassed in a pilot study. As a result, my new dissertation project focuses on the ways in which Low German-speaking Mennonite migrants from Mexico to Canada construct spaces through language with special attention to the attitudes they form towards multiple languages they speak, as well as the complicated relationship they have with literacy, and how these spaces and attitudes in turn construct their identities.

In order to examine issues of space and identity and how they relate to and are expressed by language, I will conduct oral interviews in two phases, including both focus group discussions and individual interviews. The interviews, which will be to a large extent open-ended, will focus on participants’ experiences of migration to Canada, including specific experiences relating to language. Additionally, some participants will record family communication events in their home to provide an additional source of data in terms of how participants position themselves and others when they speak. I plan to examine the data from a number of perspectives, including code-switching tendencies, use of deictics and place references, as well as narrative and conversation analysis.

This project has previously been generously supported by an Ontario Graduate Studies Fellowship, a University of Waterloo President’s Scholarship, and the German-Canadian Studies Research Grant. I am extremely grateful to the Spletzer Foundation for helping me get this project off the ground, and for its continued support through the Doctoral Fellowship.

Christine Kampen Robinson
PhD Candidate in German
University of Waterloo

Canadian Policy Towards German Unification, 1989-1990

My name is Karen Brglez and I am in the second year of the Joint Master’s Program at the University of Winnipeg/University of Manitoba. My thesis project aims to explore the role of the Canadian government in the international diplomatic process of German unification from 1989-1990. I am interested in the Canadian government’s interactions and policy choices concerning the various political, economic, and social aspects of unification. The question of German unity at the end of the twentieth century was connected to the international community. The German division began with the defeat and occupation of the Third Reich by the Allied forces in the Second World War. The Four Power occupiers were assigned special rights and responsibilities over the vanquished nation, but disagreements between the allies cemented the German partition turning it into the center of the Cold War confrontation. Over the years, repeated efforts to appease the East-West conflict failed. The international community slowly grew accustomed to the German division until the dramatic year of 1989 when pressure for unification increased.

A vast amount of historical scholarship has been devoted to the subject of the international politics surrounding German unification that occurred during 1989-1990. The work tends to focus on the diplomacy between the two German states and the Four Allied powers. However, few scholars have paid attention to the role of the ‘middle power’ countries, particularly the role of Canada and its foreign policy position on German unification. My thesis project will investigate whether and how Canada influenced the German diplomatic process. It will consider the foreign policy debates that existed within the Canadian government over the key components that surrounded the complex issues of German unification.

This project aims to make a contribution to the growing scholarship on transatlantic relations with Germany in Canadian foreign policy in the twentieth century. It will explore themes of global and national security, human rights, and international diplomacy in Canadian foreign policy. To complete this study I will draw from oral history interviews conducted with Canadian politicians, government records, debates from the House of Commons and the Senate, and dignitary speeches made by former government officials. With this project, I hope to understand how Canada utilized its ‘middle power’ status in the international sphere to negotiate German unification and the subsequent end of the Cold War period. I am very thankful to the Spletzer Family Foundation for partly funding this research project.

Karen Brglez
University of Winnipeg/University of Manitoba

Intergenerational Memories: An Oral History of the Spletzer Family

I recently graduated from the University of Winnipeg with a History Honours B.A. My project, “The Spletzer Family: Intergenerational Memories of a German-Canadian Family,” uses life history interviews to provide researchers with narratives of refugee experiences, narratives of first- and second-generation German-Canadians, and narratives of intergenerational memory within a family. Building on an already-conducted interviews with family members, I will conduct further life story interviews with members of the first and second generation. These interviews will be transcribed and archived at the University of Winnipeg Oral History Centre and the Provincial Archives of Manitoba.

The 20th century has seen vast numbers of displaced persons and refugees relocating to new homes around the world, with no evidence of abatement in the 21st century. While social scientists have conducted studies examining the psychological, educational, material, and cultural issues faced by refugees, historians have not often addressed these significant refugee movements nor have they developed archives documenting the experiences of these forced migrants. The Spletzers came to Winnipeg, MB as post-war German refugees in the early 1950s, raised a family, and started a successful construction company, eventually becoming one of the pre-eminent German families in Winnipeg. The Spletzer family, along with three other members, also established the Chair in German-Canadian Studies at the University of Winnipeg.

Interviews with the Spletzer family provide narratives about the experiences of German refugees who resettled in Canada as well as an opportunity to examine the intergenerational aspect of the refugee experience within a family. Without being presented as representative of the experiences of all refugees, or even of all German post-war refugees, their interviews will contribute to our understanding of the experiences of refugees as well as the ways that German refugees have responded to their new home environment in Manitoba. The interviews with members of the second generation will demonstrate how memories of previous homelands and refugee experiences are passed down within this family as well as how second-generation German-Canadians have been negotiating their identity in a Canadian context.

Allison Penner
The University of Winnipeg

An Online Documentary Project on the Recent Influx of German Immigrants into Winkler, Manitoba

My name is Joel Penner, and I recently completed my B.A. in German Studies at the University of Winnipeg. My project that is supported with a generous grant from the Spletzer Family Foundation focuses on the significant, yet little-known recent trend of large numbers of German immigrants settling in the Manitoban city of Winkler. The project is based on filmed interviews with first and second generation German and ethnic-German immigrants to Winkler, as well as research into the city’s historical demographic shifts. My first interviewees are students found via the school liaison at Garden Valley Collegiate, who works with new German immigrants to help them integrate into Canadian society. Family members of the students will also be interviewed, as well as members of the greater community who will be contacted through organizations such as churches. Sections of discourse from the various interviewees will be spliced together into videos that delve into specific themes, such as the differences between how first and second generation German immigrants relate to their German heritage, and the struggle to maintain a sense of cultural identity in the midst of the more multicultural Canadian context. Focus will also be given to the relationships between different groups of ethnic Germans, such as Mennonites from Latin America and Eastern Europe and Germans from Germany.

These videos will be presented on an engaging and accessible website alongside small textual and photographic introductions to each of the interviewees. Subtitles for the interviews will be supplied in both English and German to improve the project’s linguistic accessibility. Background information such as immigration statistics will be provided. The project will offer online visitors greater understanding of the personal, cultural, and historical aspects of the changing demographics in Winkler, while also providing insight into the role that language and cultural practices play in terms of how we conceive of ourselves in relation to a world in flux.
Joel Penner

Best Dissertation in German-Canadian Studies 2013 Explores Canada’s Bilingual Schools

My dissertation examines the linguistic diversity of students in German Bilingual Programs. In these programs, students receive instruction in German for up to 50% of the school day. The curriculum was written for students who have English as a home language. However, some of the students in the program have different home languages, including German. As a result, teachers adapt their teaching to meet very diverse learning needs. I gave a questionnaire to the families in the school, interviewed the teachers and administrators, observed several classroom lessons, and visited some families in their homes. The children in the focus classroom also did three tasks to show their language learning. In the school I studied, I learned that the teachers team teach and used creative ways to provide the children with opportunities to hear and speak German. The children saw themselves as emerging bilinguals. The remaining challenge is for teachers to find additional ways to meet the needs of those children who already speak German, since their German is at a different level, and those children who speak a different home language, since they are learning both English and German for the first time at school. I recommend curriculum changes to address this diversity and provide teachers with more guidance for teaching linguistically diverse students. This study was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. I am honored to receive the 2013 Dissertation Prize from the Spelzer Family Foundation.

Roswita Dressler
Research Associate, Language Research Centre
University of Calgary

Explaining Canada’s Immigration Restrictions

Christopher G. Anderson, Canadian Liberalism and the Politics of Border Control, 1867-1967. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2013. ISBN 9780774823937.
Since September 11, 2001, the Canadian government has taken many steps toward tightening Canada’s national borders in order to restrict the movement of people without impeding the movement of goods. This has led to increased activism by non-governmental agencies and others that have argued for greater respect for the basic rights of migrants. Christopher Anderson, a political scientist at Wilfried Laurier University, defines this tug-of-war between restrictive state control and rights-based opposition movements as the “control/rights nexus.” Although it may seem to be a recent phenomenon in the early twenty-first century, this nexus has had a long history in Canada – as in other liberal democracies – and it has been much more complex than it has often been made out to be. The history of this control/rights nexus in the field of immigration is the topic of Anderson’s book.
The nineteenth century is commonly considered the century of free migration; unlike in the previous centuries, governments no longer pursued mercantilist policies of controlling emigration of their population; at the same time, the classic immigration countries, especially in the Americas, had not yet implemented the massive immigration restrictions of the post-World War One period. Yet, Anderson begins his account of border control right in the middle of the nineteenth century. Not surprisingly, the post-Confederation government was intent on settling the country rather than restricting immigration. This open-border policy, he argues, was based on an acceptance of people’s rights to move freely. It was embedded in an ideology of Liberal Internationalism, which he sees clearly outlined in the debates in the House of Commons and the Senate as well as government documents – the main sources of this study.
With the rise of racial nationalism in the late nineteenth century, however, there was a shift to an ideology of Liberal Nationalism that called for race-based restrictions on immigration. Liberal Nationalists succeeded in implementing policies that barred “Asiatics” – Chinese, Japanese, East Indians as well as Jews from Europe – from entering Canada. This shift was tied to an increasing emphasis on the principle of state sovereignty, which, according to Liberal Nationalists, “trumped the due process and equality rights that could be claimed by non-citizens” (129). These restrictive approaches increased over the next decades up until the end of the Second World War. The pendulum swung back in the control/rights nexus toward a more open policy after 1945. Anderson’s account ends with the introduction of open-border policies during a resurgence of Liberal Internationalism in the 1960s. As we know, the pendulum swung back again during the 1990s toward greater border control.
How can we explain these pendulum swings within the control/rights nexus? According to Anderson, rights-based politics emerge in reaction to restrictive controls. Thus, because in the second half of the nineteenth century “there were no significant rights restrictions controlling movement across the border, […] rights-based politics did not arise” (42). While the state was concerned about letting in the “right” kind of immigrants, it focused on the problems of keeping settlers in the country and fighting cronyism within the immigration apparatus. This changed in the period 1887 to 1914, when two counter-currents emerged: this period saw a dramatic expansion of immigration to Canada; at the same time, “the conceptual and legislative foundations of a rights-restrictive approach that would remain in place until the 1960s – and that continues to shape the politics of control – were established” (58). Thus, as immigration was peaking in the decade before the First World War, the House and Senate passed increasingly restrictive legislation.
As is typical of the rights/control nexus, however, increasing restriction led to greater rights-activism. At times, this made control less effective and the state, in turn, implemented even further restrictions. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the East Indian community resisted these restrictions, both through circumventing controls and contesting them in courts, often successfully. As a result, however, the government increased and sharpened the tools it could use to control immigration and deport immigrants. They began to use these tools of control in the period between 1914 and 1945, a period which saw “the domination of liberal nationalism” (93). Indeed, despite oscillating immigration numbers – from a peak in 1913 to almost no immigration during the First World War back to high immigration in the second half of the 1920s and again back to nearly no immigration during the Great Depression and Second World War – there was continuity in the government’s building up of measures that allowed the state ever-greater control of who to let into the country and who to remove. The application of such measures culminated in the near-complete refusal to accept Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany and the deportation of Japanese and Japanese Canadians at the end of the war.
As before, this Liberal Nationalist restrictionism provoked a rights-based response that now shifted from the nineteenth century ideals of British Liberalism to an international recognition of human rights in the wake of the Second World War and the emergence of a United Nations framework. Although Liberal Nationalists were on the defense in the first postwar decade, they remained in charge of defining restrictive policies, as was evident in the Canadian government’s refusal to sign the United Nations Conventions Relating to the Status of Refugees (1951) and the introduction of a restrictive Immigration Act (1952).
Nevertheless, during the 1950s and 1960s, proponents of open-door immigration policies gained strength. Throughout the 1950s, parliamentary opposition and human rights organizations attacked the restrictive regulations of the 1952 Immigration Act, successfully making their case in Parliament, in courts, and in public and thus slowly chipping away at its regulations. Although the Act was not replaced until 1976, by 1962/67 ethno-racial discrimination had been largely expunged from Canadian immigration policy. In 1969, Canada signed the 1951 Refugee Convention. The 1970s were, in a sense, the apex of Liberal Internationalist immigration and citizenship policy. From the late 1960s on, this shift in ideology and policy effected a major change in the intake of new immigrants and refugees.
Throughout the century under review, while the pendulum of the rights/control nexus swung back and forth, the two ideological interpretations of national sovereignty, immigration objectives, and the rights of citizens and non-citizens have become increasingly interwoven with each other so that by the beginning of the twenty-first century, the Canadian government could proclaim Canada to be a multicultural country of immigration while at the same introducing some of the severest and racialized rights restrictions in the history of Canada (193). Anderson’s fine study helps us understand this paradox.
Alexander Freund, The University of Winnipeg

Migration, Language, and Space

My dissertation project focuses on the ways in which German-speaking Paraguayan Mennonite migrants to Canada construct spaces through language, and how these spaces in turn construct their identities. While research exists on German-speaking Mennonites who remain in Paraguay, very little exists about those Paraguayan Mennonites who have emigrated to and settled in Canada.
I am particularly interested in the 1.5 generation, or the generation of migrants who emigrated as children, and who did not necessarily have a conscious choice in the matter of migration. In order to examine issues of space and identity and how they relate to and are expressed by language, I will conduct oral interviews in two phases. The interviews, which will be to a large extent open-ended, will focus on participants? experiences of migration to Canada, including specific experiences relating to language.
In the initial phase, I will conduct one-on-one interviews with the participants. I plan to examine the data from a number of perspectives, including code-switching tendencies, use of deictics and place references, as well as narrative and conversation analysis. In a second phase, I will conduct focus group interviews with multiple participants at once, because I want to see how space and identity constructions change and may even become contradictory in a setting that calls for more co-construction.
This project is generously supported by an Ontario Graduate Studies Fellowship, a University of Waterloo President’s Scholarship, as well as the German-Canadian Studies Research Grant. I am extremely grateful to the Spletzer Foundation for helping me get this project off the ground.
Christine Kampen Robinson, PhD Candidate in German
University of Waterloo,